Rainn Wilson steps into some pretty big shoes on Star Trek: Discovery, as he plays the rascally Harcourt “Harry” Fenton Mudd, whom the late, great Roger C. Carmel so brilliantly introduced in the Star Trek: The Original Series episodes “Mudd’s Women” and “I, Mudd.” And, trust us, Wilson – a hardcore Trek fan himself – knows full well that expectations will be sky-high. That’s why Wilson – best known for his role as Dwight Schrute on The Office – smiled slyly when asked if he considered his performance as Harry Mudd a complement to Roger Carmel’s or something separate and apart from it.
“I think it is… Well, let me put it this way,” Wilson shared during a quick conversation with StarTrek.com at the recent San Diego Comic-Con extravaganza. “So, I inherited the role of Dwight from Mackenzie Crook from the original (The Office) series. And, I basically stole all of the brilliant stuff that he did, and then added my own stuff, and it was great. And, it’s the same thing with this. I inherited a character that had been previously played by another brilliant actor. I stole a lot of things that I loved from his performance, and then added a lot more of my own.
“So, it’s a testament to (Carmel), what an interesting actor he was,” Wilson continued. “You can’t take your eyes off him when he’s on an episode… So full of light, and has a wonderful light and dark quality that the original writers brought to him. But I think the new writers (on Discovery) have also brought their… He’s mischievous and deadly at the same time. And that’s a fun balance to watch.”
Comic-Con attendees who visited the Discovery Gallery over the previous weekend got to see – and marvel at — Wilson’s Harry Mudd costume up close and personal. Wilson could barely contain his enthusiasm as she spoke of wearing the costume and bringing Mudd to life.
“Oh, it’s amazing,” he said. “It’s amazing. It’s part Shakespeare. He has heightened language. It’s very much in the Star Trek universe. Also, to get to play a civilian is rare in Star Trek; there’s very few civilian roles. I really think they’re the most fun. Just think about it. There’s this whole universe in the Federation space that they’re buying things, and selling things, and trading things, and having cities, and falling in love. We need to see some of those characters sometimes.”
And soon we will.
Visit StarTrek.com tomorrow for our conversation with Mary Wiseman.
Star Trek: Discovery will debut September 24 on CBS All Access in the U.S. and Space Channel in Canada. The series will premiere on Netflix in the rest of the world on September 25.
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